Could do better

As the title of this post implies, I have not been on top of things, diet wise, this week.  However, overall I’m not disappointed, I’ve lost 3 3/4 inches and 1lb and it has been a rather busy week with work which has used up a lot of my resources making it harder to get the exercises done.

Calculating my inch loss is much easier this time round thanks to the wonders of excel spreadsheets!  Much easier on the brain after the initial setup of the formulae.

In other news: we got Archie put-to on Sunday!  First time we’ve had him in the carriage since September 2010.  It was a bit ‘high-octane’ at first with the dear boy being wound like a spring and not able to relax (or concentrate/listen) at first.  At times like that it is difficult to keep the ‘calm assertive pack leader’ attitude in place when your brain is thinking of contingency plans if he im/explodes.  After a good talking to, and lots of singing of “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean” (a good walking speed song – you also can’t hold tension in your voice or body if you sing, good way to trick the brain/body into relaxing) he had chilled out enough to take him out on the road.

What a different horse; relaxed, striding out and [reasonably] calm and easy going.  There were a couple of moments where he wasn’t sure of things, but a quick revision of the “do not deviate, do not hesitate, etc” speech and he settled down nicely.  Now need to just get a few more trips like that under our belts (without the initial hiccups preferably) and we’ll be out and about in no time.

Off now to make some healthy lunch, bake some spelt bread and then back to work to earn some pennies.

Gone but not forgotten

I have been rather absent from here of late.  That is party because I had to take a halt in my pursuit of my healthy body circa 1996/1997 due to the decrepit nature of my hip (since identified as muscles of my right hip being chronically in spasm, severely limiting my movement and being a RIGHT pain in the arse – pun intended) and not wanting to advertise it to the world*.  Since then I have had the madness of pre-holiday, holiday and post-holiday to contend with as well as work and other ‘stuff’ that has got in the way.

Incidentally, it has actually been nice to have a break from doing the EAP as I have been able to appreciate the weight that I have lost and being able to re-claim a good portion of my wardrobe from storage in the “I’ll slim back into that one” section of the attic.

I’m going to be starting again on Monday, back at the start of week 1 having been working on my hip to try and avoid hitting the same wall after week 4.

In other news, Archy has been away to ‘boarding-school’ up in Swansea for three weeks to get him back in the shafts… sent up to a lovely chap, very kind and gentle.  However, we think the Welsh accent, and being away from home, rather stressed Archy out as he was wound tight as a drum when we went to pick him up.  The first time we sent him away to get him broken to drive (the time where he came back actually broken in body and mind) was to a Welshman – who was NOT kind and gentle – which is why we think the Welsh accent may have been a tipping point.  Anyway, he managed to progress in his training somewhat, in spite of being stressed out, and he has relaxed a huge amount since he has been back so all is not lost.  He has become more resilient.  Either that or he is just so relieved to be back here that he is on his best behaviour so he doesn’t get sent away again!!

* – no, I don’t think the world does read my blog, just that the the option is there 😉

Mixing it up

Yesterday was an enforced rest day due to my mystery toe…. 75% sure it’s broken but it’s not nearly as painful as I think it should be for a broken toe, however it does ouch something horrid if I use my foot correctly when walking (i.e. rolling from my heel to my little toe then across the ball of my foot to my big toe.  Consequently, am suffering an achy foot and a cramping calf because I am either limping or trying not to limp by rolling my foot directly from heel to big toe.

I also had some emergency dog-sitting so clients could go to Wimbledon so decided that I would take the day off and let my toe settle down.  Just some gentle walking with the pooch.

As a result, I have decided to shift my Friday exercises to Saturday, Saturday exercises to Sunday and use yesterday as Sunday’s rest day.  This is because I was feeling really disappointed that I wasn’t going to be able to do my exercises yesterday, I was feeling like a bit of a failure until I told myself to buck up and that resting with a broken bone is not ‘wimping out’ but a sensible move.  Evidence of my guilt/disappointment/wimpish feelings about taking yesterday was the dream I had where I was scoffing down bread and pasta and all sorts of other Trot-list foods, EAP be damned!  It was horrid.

This is more like the me of 17-years ago before everything went a-over-t health-wise.  At last!!

In other news, last night I registered for a local K9-9K sponsored walk, with dog, for our local veterinary charity, the Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS) on the 21st July.  This is a Big Thing for me, being able to contemplate walking 9k (or 18k steps in pedometer terms) in one go.  This time 12-months ago, and even 6-months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to even think of doing this without coming over all fatigued.

On that positive note I will leave you to go and try my foot out in a Jodhpur boot

Conducting the music of movement

Sometimes when I’m riding I feel like my brain is a conductor putting on a command performance; with my body as the orchestra and the horse as the soloist. Especially when you are trying to correct your position! Keeping the pelvic floor and abs engaged to reduce the anterior tilt of my pelvis, making sure my toes and knees don’t stray out (although they are a lot less likely to do so since I started the EAP), not rounding my shoulders, but not tensing up either. Then you have the horse/soloist to think of, speeding up the orchestra or slowing down the soloist depending on what you’re trying to achieve!

Fortunately I have my physio sitting on one shoulder with her hints and tips, and Matt from the EAP on the other with more (whether I’m mounted or not) to keep my position in check! Fortunately this does not leave any shoulder space for that pesky demon whispering things like “chocolate, sweets, etc” in the style of the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

I’ve not had too many cravings for stuff on the “Trot” list (other than milk, I miss milk) over and above a brief ‘mmmmm’ when walking past the bakery with the kitchen extractor fan pumping out the smells of a fresh bake! With this crummy weather I have missed “stodge” for it’s warm and comforting properties. I did relent and get a gluten free ciabatta roll to have with my soup but next I think I’m going to try making some cornbread.

Speaking of the EAP, I’m now at the end of week 2, day 4 and it is still going well, had a sneaky measure and it looks like week 2 will continue the trend of a not insignificant inches loss! Scales won’t arrive until early next week so weight is still an unknown but that can vary so much due to factors other than how much you weigh that I’m more inclined to concentrate on measurements.

Quick tip for “spiderman’s hold” (or 4-point kneeling with opposite arm/leg lift) if you have trouble with an anterior tilt to your pelvis like I do, is to place a ball in the small of your back to ensure that you don’t either rotate your body when lifting legs or tilt your pelvis and go into extension when lifting the legs. Basically, if the ball rolls off you’ve got movement you don’t want: sideways exit = lateral rotation, concentrate on your core & pelvic floor to stabilise; backwards exit = pelvic tilt, don’t lift your legs so high and concentrate on the quality of the move in totality rather than the range of movement in the leg lift alone. I use a prickle ball because they are a little bit more stable and give you a chance to correct before you loose it.

Disclaimer: I’m not a trained fitness instructor, this is just advice gained from my personal experience.

Upcoming challenges: I think I have broken my little toe so that may prove somewhat of a difficulty. Hopefully I have only bruised the bone but it is still rather ouchy. With all the riding and exercise today, I only went and whacked it on my “mobile office” wheelie bag whilst doing my day job. How boring!

Weighed in, weighed in, Horses away!

Week 1, day 5

So far I’m surviving doing the EAP and following the “Hot to Trot” nutritional plan. I might even go so far as to say that I’m thriving. Had a sneaky measure the other evening (needed to move the tape measure and couldn’t resist) and I’ve already lost a little on my hips! Haven’t managed to get a note of my start weight; had some new scales delivered and got very excited that I had lost 2 stone since I had last weighed….. Thought it was a bit wonky so looked in to it and they are weighing 10kg lighter (a new 20kg bag of chicken feed only weighed as 10kg). Replacements are on their way.

The exercise sessions are intense but as they are 30 mins from warm-up through to cool-down they aren’t over taxing although I’m now finding out just how cheap the Pilates/yoga mat I have is as I don’t think it likes sweat too much!

The diet element is not too hard to follow, I tried to have fresh foods as much as possible anyway so it is mainly wheat, dairy, sugar, chocolate, tea and coffee that I’m not having, I avoided artificial sweeteners (esp. Aspartame) like the plague anyway.

As I guessed at the beginning, cutting out dairy has been my biggest challenge, a hang up from 34 years a dairy farmers daughter. I don’t miss coffee, except for the milk that came in my latte. I dream of cheese; a nice bit of Brie or a chunk of tangy Tickler (and not just because it is “dad’s cheese”).

Have had the usual nasty calf cramps I get when I don’t drink enough milk so have invested in some calcium supplements (as a bonus found some that have magnesium as well as vit D added). My plan was always to, when I win the lottery, have a couple of cows and go back to fresh, un-pasteurised milk, so much nicer.

Overall, glad I took up the challenge and looking forward to seeing how much I can achieve at the end if the 8-weeks

New Beginnings

Today I started on an exercise and nutritional plan called “The Equestrian Athlete Plan” ( which was recommended to me by the lovely Lucy.  It is specifically targeted exercises for riders to develop their bodies in a way to enhance their riding performance – which puts significantly different demands on the body than any other form of exercise.  As I am doing a fair bit of riding, and plan to do more, it seems like the sensible way to go.

Having been doing some schooling with Archie (now that his more chilled out) I’ve been noticing that my left leg is weak and I have trouble getting Archie to work evenly as I can’t support/direct him as well with my left leg as with my right – leg yielding to the left is fantastic, to the right not so good because I just don’t have the control/strength in my left leg (sorry, not that interesting for you non-horsey readers).

The nutritional plan that goes with it is rather extreme but makes a whole lot of sense.  The exercises form a 30-minute workout every working day and the whole thing is designed to fit around a busy life with horses.  The plan is 8-weeks long so, having started today, I will have completed it by 26th August.

My declaration: I’m not going to set goals for dress sizes dropped, weight or inches lost, however my SMART goal will be:

  • Specific: to stick to the Equestrian Athlete Plan 100% – no self-sabotage, no “just this one Fredo bar won’t hurt, NO EXCUSES – to achieve the best results I can
  • Measurable: I will have lost weight, lost inches and my clothes will fit better
  • Achievable: 30minutes of exercise a day, 5-days a week + following a detailed nutritional plan
  • Realistic: this has been done and is being done by many people who are achieving results.  There is also ample support available through the Plan.
  • Time restricted: The plan is 8-weeks long.

I’ve taken the before measurements and photos (photos will not be shared with anyone but me!!).

Having recently totted up my step-counts since January and realising that my average step count of 10k+ is actually above average, I’m feeling ready to take this on, no holds barred and take the next steps to reclaiming my once fit and lovely body, which I didn’t appreciate half as much as I should have (cue strains of Baz Lhurman’s ‘Wear Sunscreen’ swelling in the background).

Having struggled for so long (14 years and change) to shed the weight I gained when I had Glandular Fever there is a certain element of Fear that I won’t succeed but I’m not going to let that stop me from sticking to the plan 100%.

Cutting out dairy will be my biggest challenge I think.

Continuing on an upward trend

The last week or so I have been re-claiming my mornings. It started when this current spell of hot weather did as I wanted to get up and out on the horse before it got too hot (inevitably, if I wait for it to cool down in the evening I don’t get out for one reason or another).

Doing that, I’ve remembered how great a sense of satisfaction you can get from getting up-and-on in the mornings, quite often I’ve found that by lunchtime I’ve completed nearly all of my ‘essential’ chores for the day. It makes for a much more relaxed me and my body clock is adjusting nicely, even to the point that I’ll get up at 5 when woken up by my restless cat rather than head back to sleep until my alarm goes off at 6.30. Even today, when I’d been out partying last night and only got to bed at 1am, I still woke up at 6.15! Admittedly I DID then turn over and go back to sleep for another couple of hours but that was only sensible.

The lovely thing about this is that I’ve been able to sustain these early mornings without any CFS knock-backs (frantically grasps for the nearest wooden fitting) but I think I will be adopting a European lifestyle and adding a siesta to my routine!

Overall I’m feeling healthier, fitter, livelier and more resilient than I have since I was 17, half my lifetime ago. It does make me sad sometimes that I’ve “lost” so much time with feeling crummy (and I’m very glad I didn’t recognise the doctor who dismissed my glandular fever as ‘teenage laziness’ for 9 months until I was well away from him) but there is no point in dwelling on the “what ifs” and “could have beens” because if I hadn’t lived those 17 years as I did, I might not have met the lovely people I now call my friends and I may not have done some of the fabulous things I have.

Onwards and upwards as the saying goes

Taking back the years….

…and my body!

I have found the fit me again!  At last!  I know it’s early days still but I have started running again.  I have had a big mental block about it, I think because for so long any exercise I have done (other than riding and Pilates) has brought about a setback – either an infection/cold or just a crushing fatigue.  This was even to the point that whenever I was trying to run in my dreams, I just couldn’t do it; although I desperately needed to run, my body just wouldn’t respond, my legs wouldn’t move fast enough or I’d trip over my own feet.

However, recently, thanks to building things up slowly with Pilates and riding, I have been feeling fitter and healthier than I have in a long, long time.  I can now take Archie out for a hack for 45mins to an hour and a good 90-95% of that time is trot-work, not just ‘bimbling’ but working on an outline, impulsion and strength… a good workout for me and the horse.  I’ve also been wearing the pedometer again and am mostly hitting my goal of averaging between 7-10k steps a day (just over 8,600/day for Feb/Mar/Apr) with my highest step count being 21,312!  And I didn’t have a setback either.

Another turning point was when we had to call out the vet to one of our ewes who was having difficulty lambing: I had to run from the far end of the fields to the house to get the field gate key.  OK, so I only managed to run the length of one of the fields but I didn’t die, my hips didn’t give me hell and I didn’t suffer a setback over the next few days. Watershed moment in ditching my fears that exercise will knock me back down as it has so often before.  I’ve even been able to run in my dreams and imagining myself working out on a cross-trainer has become an excellent tool to stop my brain spinning when it won’t switch off (although I think I can safely say that I will not be taking up spinning any time soon, if ever)!

I’ve bought myself a cross trainer so I can start out doing short stints without over-doing it, then building up my times by increments, still remembering my ‘phasing’ so I avoid setbacks. I started doing some interval training for running today (probably managed about 5-minutes running out of my 25 minute dog walk but, hay, it’s more than I’ve done in ages!) and I’m feeling energised rather than knackered.

I’m hopeful that I will soon be re-claiming my body from the clutches of CFS for good.  I’m looking forward to fitting back into all the fabulous clothes I used to wear that I could never quite bring myself to throw away.

Having CFS can steal your body identity.  I keep forgetting that before I developed glandular fever (and subsequently CFS), I used to ride at least once and often twice a day, regularly cycle and run just for the fun of it, go (jive) dancing 2-3 times a week and all this whilst working shifts of either 6am-2pm or 2-10pm.  I used to be fit.

After 13 years of being told by various doctors that there was nothing wrong with me other than being over weight and un-fit (with the sub-text of “lazy” running through it all), you start to believe them.  Even to the point that when you regularly have to climb three flights of stairs to your office (no lift) and it gets increasingly difficult you still don’t realise that it is not just a case of doing more exercise and getting fit; if that was the case it would become easier the more often you did it.

Although I wouldn’t ever want to get to the point that I was – where I could barely get out of bed and some days even thought of calling a taxi to get me the last couple of hundred yards home or be in tears at the thought of walking that far – and I hope that nobody else has to be in that situation before they get treatment, but I am glad that the eventual outcome was the diagnosis of CFS as it has enabled me to manage the condition and get to the point I am now, where I can see a way back to being as fit as I was at 17 before it all started.

Run, dont walk

I’m disproportionately excited about the fact that I ran for a short burst today, on the road no less, and my hip has not been any more troublesome than usual.

This may seem like something very small to most of you but to me it is a landmark. Until now, any running or something that would jarr my hip would send it spiralling into bouts of acute shooting pains and chronic aches.

I now feel even less like I’m trapped in the body of an 80 year old.

In other news, took the horse out today and realised that if I don’t look at the traffic AT ALL he is better behaved. Also managed to get a lovely relaxed canter out of him and it’s lovely.

Today has been a good day.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

The way the world works

I have fallen down in my blogging lately.  A whole two months and change without any updates; a combination of relying on my phone for emails/facebook and not switching on the laptop for longer periods of time are to blame.  Additionally I’ve been feeling a bit stuck in a rut with not much news to report.  I really should try and post something every day, or at least every week.

Things have had their ups and downs over the last few months.  I’m still without a job.  The horse has been signed off from the Vet so we are back riding him and he’s coming on nicely.  The steps-per-day are gradually increasing, I’m averaging between 5-7k most days with at least one 10k day a week.  I’m planning, when I have an income again, to buy a cross trainer so that I can increase my step count whilst getting some cardio work.  I would go running but the concussion causes me horrid pain in my hip and lower back so the cross trainer would allow greater speeds without the jarring.

On the job front I’m holding off on the self-employed angle because I’m claiming Jobseekers Allowance to cover bills whilst I’m looking for a job and if you go self-employed you are not entitled to claim but still have no guarantee of work.  I’m hoping to find a part-time job which will give me a core income but still leave me time to cultivate clients.  However, unless you have children it is difficult to convince an employer that someone of 32 who was previously a Senior Executive PA in London simply wants a part time job to have a better quality of life.  I think they assume that you are only going for a part-time job for an ‘any port in a storm’ application.  I’m finding it very frustrating.  I have a few applications on the go and am trawling the job sites and local paper for more opportunities but it is a soul destroying process.

However, I keep muttering to myself to the phrase “there is something better around the corner” and keep sending off the applications because what else can you do but keep on keeping on.